Consumer Reports: Why is printer ink so expensive?

Outraged over the price of printer ink? You're not alone. A recent Consumer Reports survey shows the price of ink is the biggest complaint for printer owners.

But why are those little ink cartridges so expensive?

There's a lot of science and engineering behind printing, and it all has to work together seamlessly. Consumers expect a push-button experience and that's what printers strive to deliver.

Consumer Reports says to think of what you paid for your printer as more of a down payment.

The manufacturer hopes you come back to buy their original brand ink or toner. That's the profit motive. So now they sell the printer cheaply, but charge more for ink and toner.

And when it comes to ink, most consumers aren't getting what they paid for. CR says tests have shown that with many inkjet printers, more than half the ink you buy never winds up on the page.

While inkjets are a popular option, they tend to use more ink than other types of printers because they have a maintenance cycle. That helps keep printheads from clogging, which can ruin your prints.

CR says consumers who print an average of 25 to 35 pages a month should leave their printers on. That's because turning a printer off and on again can trigger more maintenance cycles. Don't worry about your electricity bill -- CR says inkjets use very little power in sleep mode.

If you're looking for other ways to save money when it comes to printers, consider an affordable black-and-white laser printer, especially if most of what you're printing is text.

Also check out reservoir inkjet printers. Instead of cartridges, they use ink reservoirs that can last up to two years.

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